A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

Watch this short video… it’s a great intro to the blog post.

A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

Life was meant to be enJOYed, not just endured.  What happens when someone in your family announces they have same-sex attraction? Do you kick them out? Do you love them unconditionally?  This is a very difficult subject, one that brings much controversy no matter your background. 

The purpose of this video and post is to invite families, and society in general, to reinvest in kindness.  When we look around at the amount of judgment and hatred in the world, the honest response is that we all could do better. It is my belief that we, the human race, are to LOVE one another, SERVE one another and do our very best to HELP one another with the challenges and trials that come our way.  

It doesn’t matter where you live or what your religious beliefs are; if you are rich, poor, brown, black, white, pink or green – we ALL have the same basic needs. We ALL want to feel loved, safe and appreciated.  God said, “Love one another as I have loved you.  Everyone deserves to feel loved and safe to be him or herself.  He wasn’t just talking to your neighbor.  He was talking to you and me and even those in our families that may make different choices than we would. Intolerance is why there is so much hate, war and bullying in this world. It needs to stop.  Things need to change.

Gandhi said it best; “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

It was January 9, 2012, when my 24-year-old son Sean, told his father Scott and I that he was gay, in the best way he knew how.  Precisely at 11:11 pm, he sent us a private message saying;

“Hey so I’m not gonna beat around the bush too much, I’m just going to tell you something that I’m sure you already know or it has at least crossed your mind plenty of times.  I’m gay. I’m sure this isn’t the best news a parent could hear, but I feel like it’s not right for me to Not talk to you about something very real to me. I want you to know I’m very much the same weird Sean. Ha! I love you and dad so much and you’re the best parents a kid could ask for. This is why it’s taken me so long to tell you, I’m fine with the pain it can bring me at times but, I just didn’t want to hurt you cause you don’t deserve it. Once again I love you very much, but I want to keep this brief cause I am sure you’d rather talk in person and I am 100 percent fine with that. I haven’t told anyone ever, I wanted you and dad to be the first to know.”

The sting of reading the words “I’m gay,” was masked by the last sentence: “I haven’t told anyone ever, I wanted you and dad to be the first to know” – to me that validated how awesome, amazing and considerate my son is!  It also shed light on the fact that my son had closeted his most conflicted and torn feelings with lock and key – alone. That, I was not proud of.

Sean was correct in his assumption that this had “at least crossed my mind”.  I had often wondered about my strikingly, good-looking son that only dated when the girls took the initiative and asked him out.  It was a thought I kept very quiet, and secret, hardly daring to think it to myself.  It was something I “hoped” was not true!  But here it was in black and white – my son announcing that he was gay.  His father, on the other-hand, had no clue. Scott was honestly completely blind-sided by the news. It shook him to his core.  Not that he didn’t love Sean.  He simply had not seen this coming and it wasn’t something he’d even slightly acknowledged.

Immediately upon reading Sean’s message, I called him asking to hurry home so we could talk, face-to-face.  This was Sean’s final night before heading back to school in Hawaii. He was out visiting friends and saying his good-byes for another year. When he got home, he and I stayed up until 4am talking, crying and hugging before calling it a night and heading to the airport those few hours later. It was one of the most difficult things I’d ever done under the circumstances; giving him one last hug that would have to suffice for an entire year.

Going Through My Own Refiner’s Fire

As I look back on that very first conversation, I have to admit that I am not proud of everything I said. I said some things completely out of ignorance. I had never researched the subject – naively thinking that was a subject “other families” had to deal with — NOT me and my family.

First, I told Sean I loved him – and that my love would NEVER change.  I felt very strongly that he needed to know of my unconditional love for him.  But then I said some ignorant stuff, like “What are you going to do about it?” and “You are a fighter Sean – you can fight this.”  “Hang in there, this is your test, your challenge, and in the next life your feelings will match your body and all will be well.”  As these phrases spilled off my lips, I honestly thought I was giving words of comfort, not knowing each phrase was a dagger in my son’s heart.  The phrases weren’t new. He had grown up hearing them everywhere – and he had spent a lifetime trying to digest and understand why he felt the way he felt and what kind of life that meant for him.

What literally broke my heart that evening was looking at my 24-year-old son, and thinking my adorable little boy with the big smile had grown up dealing with this secret all alone – NO one to trust and talk to about it.  I cried then, and I cry still now.  Tears also come at the thought of thousands of kids and teens with same-sex attraction dealing with it ALONE, afraid to talk about their true feelings and contemplating suicide as the answer.  Death is NOT the answer.

As I have listened to my son tell of what it was like growing up “fighting an inward battle” trying to “fit in” in a world that frowns upon gays; belonging to a religion that is family-centered and strongly believes marriage is between a man and a woman, and in a family that teaches the same.  My heart breaks at the thought of my own flesh and blood growing up feeling like a misfit right in our home, in school, in society, and within the walls of our church.  Growing up he never let on to the sadness and confusion going on inside. He was a happy, active, fun-loving little boy and teenager. We just didn’t know. Even his friends didn’t know.  If an Oscar could be awarded, Sean would have won. He hid his feelings well.

The dagger in my heart are the piercing words of Sean telling of the years he contemplated ending his life so no one would ever know he was gay. It is my prayer and quest that NO ONE feels that way – Ever!

I am so thankful Sean never acted upon those dark feelings and is happy with the person he is, trying to live the best life he can,  just like everyone else.

I have Googled, read, fasted and prayed to become more educated. One startling fact that I learned in my quest to gain knowledge and understanding is that teens and young adults with same-sex attraction have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts…..THAT is unacceptable!  No one should go to bed at night thinking they are better off dead.  Never. Ever.   We need to be the change we wish to see in the world – LOVE one another, SERVE one another and HELP one another.

I have learned through the years that everyone is fighting some kind of battle. The gift this has given me is not to judge, to be more compassionate, kind and tolerant – and to treat all others the way I would want to be treated.

No matter where you stand on this sensitive subject, I pray that we may all respond with much more sensitivity and thoughtfulness in our families and in society when encountering same-sex attraction.

P.S. To my readers who are wondering about Sean’s father Scott’s reaction.  Scott had deep-rooted feelings of Homophobia, so Sean had grown up hearing his father’s unkind perception of gays, making the “coming out” all that more difficult. Once that table had been turned and Scott knew it, he blew me away with his quick quest to learn all he could about the elephant in the room. What I will tell you is that in his own due time, Scott will share his personal refiner’s fire to accepting and loving his son.  And it will be powerful and heartfelt.

P.P.S.  In April of 2013, Sean graduated with honors from BYU-Hawaii with a degree in Social Work.  He recently completed an internship at an Orphanage in Thailand and has been accepted into the Masters Program at the University of Hawaii.  Sean is a happy, easy-going guy with a great sense of humor.  He’s an Eagle Scout and has always been a leader amongst his peers.  For example, Sean paid for his college education all by himself, without student loans!  He graduated with honors, wisely debt-free, and teaching others how to do the same. Coming out has not changed Sean — it’s Scott and I that have changed. And for that, I thank my Heavenly Father. He blessed us with the gift of learning about something we thought only others needed to worry about.  I love Sean today as much, if not more, than ever.

May God bless you in all of your experiences, discoveries and life lessons.

Yours,

Becky Mack

Sean

 UPDATE June 2014:  My husband Scott FINALLY took the time to sit down and write about his journey;  How A Father Went From Homophobic to Loving His Gay Son. 

 

FYI:   Grab my eBook today for ONLY $2.97! “My Husband Wears The Short Shorts In THIS Family!” It’s parenting with humor, courage and a whole lot of love.  Also in paperback!  

 

42 Thoughts on “A Very Real Matter: Same-Sex Attraction

  1. Ramona Blanchard on January 15, 2014 at 9:09 am said:

    Thank you, Becky and Sean. I really wanted to know about this from people who are experiencing it in real life. I am so moved and send my love to you, Sean and anyone who is dealing with this on a daily basis. You are blessed to be so eloquent and open. I know your family is making a big difference in the world!

  2. We love you Sean, not matter what. You have always been nice to us, to my family. I know Heavenly Father, loves you.
    Becky, he is a very special person., I know that…love you all.

  3. Lisa Ann Whitw on January 15, 2014 at 11:34 am said:

    Hi Beck and Sean,
    I just wanted to tell you both how deeply moved I am by your story. I have a daughter who is gay and I love her to the depths of my soul. She was also a teen mommy by trying to ” fix” the feelings she had for other girls. Imagine the judgement and stares she faces when she is with her girlfriend of four years and her four year old daughter. To top that she is in a polyamorous relationship. Too much to explain here- ;) what I can tell for certain is that I love her more now than the day she was laid in my arms as a new arrival.. That’s a lot of love guys!! We have had many life changing adventures in our family through the years. I don’t see them as hardships but adventures and journeys that have taught me much about love and happiness. It is our own personal responsibilities to be ambassadors of both. I am divorced after thirty years of marriage, one of my daughters was at the hand of a sexual abuser, one diagnosed with bipolar disorder when she was 14 and one daughter who a full figured beauty who has been at the hands of bullies her entire life. Forgiveness, compassion, tolerance, unconditional love and support are ALWAYS the answer. I have always admired your family from afar. I lost touch with you Becky but want you to know how much I’ve always thought of you. I am so thankful for the comings and goings in my life. They have taught me much. Love to both of you and your family…

    Lisa White. I’m remarried to a wonderful man.. Life is perfect. The best is yet to come!!! My personal mantra. :)

  4. So proud of you for sharing this Becky! What a blessing you are to Sean/Xian and his journey! Big hugs to the entire Mack family!

  5. Sean, my heart goes out to you. None of us who are not gay can even imagine what a day in your life is. But I DO know that God has important plans for you.

    Perhaps sharing your story is part of His great plan for you. God sometimes answers prayers through the inspiring thoughts, deeds and compassion of others.

    My the Lord bless you and those around you with understanding and peace. He will open wide doors for you Sean.

    David Frey
    Friendswood, Texas

  6. Susan Higley on January 15, 2014 at 3:49 pm said:

    God bless you Becky. This is wonderful and I am in tears thinking how many people this will help. I will share this with my friends and family because it needs to be shared around the world.
    Well done!

    Peace and Love,
    Susie

  7. Brooke Finlayson on January 15, 2014 at 5:45 pm said:

    What a great son you have, and you are a wonderful mother. thank you for sharing!

  8. Wow, as I read this I had thought it was deja vu . In 2011 my step son “came out”, my wife called me and asked what I thought of it. I was not unlike Scott, I was pretty homophobic and would bash gays when given the chance. My wife asked “what would you think if I said “joe” was gay?” What is there to say? I have known the kid since he was a little boy, what kind of person would I be if him being gay mattered or made a difference? I have since been trying to learn more about it and have learned to become more understanding and accepting, and even defending those that live an “alternative” lifestyle. My son, like yours, is a very responsible person, paying his own way through college without loans. I liked how you said Sean hasn’t changed, it was you and Scott, I have changed a lot myself, and honestly I feel like a better person because of it. thanks for a wonderful read.

  9. Sheira leavitt on January 15, 2014 at 11:25 pm said:

    Dear Sean and Becky,

    Your story touches my heart to the core. I first met Sean at byuh in 2011 and instantly could see why both my daughters and my son loved him so completely. Just four nights ago I was with one of kids who is going through the hardest time of their entire life and they told me that they want to try to surround themselves with people like there friend Sean because he is the least judgement and most easy going good guy they have ever been around. I think everyone has a story that brings them to the point of love and non-judgement that we all need to get to but how much more beautiful this world would be if we could learn it as children from our parents and at communities. I agree that we need to be the change the world needs in our homes, families, churches and communities. Thank you Sean and Becky for sharing your story and Sean for being a great fun friend to my children.

  10. What a great video! So glad that you shared this…very courageous too! Hopefully this will help other families.
    Something that one of my friends mentioned to me was that Heavenly Father expects everyone to be obedient to His commandments and that her sexual orientation doesn’t exempt her. She feels that, not unlike other people who are single all their life…for whatever reason…this is one of life’s trials for her. Does she enjoy life? You bet! Being gay doesn’t change her ability to live God’s commandments. (And who of us DOESN’T struggle with one or more of the commandments? ) She is an example to many of righteous living!

  11. Daniel Leavitt on January 16, 2014 at 4:44 am said:

    Sean, Thank you for your courage. Yes the courage to tell your family, but also the courage to keep this inside for so long. You don’t know me, but I am Reuben’s Dad and I have seen pictures and heard about you. I am so sorry for how the world has been to you. I cried imagining you contemplating exiting this life early. Thank you for not doing that. You are exactly who Heavenly Father intended you to be and you will find your way. You have so many people who love you and will be there for you. Life is going to give you every good gift. Believe it!! This part of you that you wish at times would not be there will and does allow you to show the empathy for everyone who suffers! It is a gift.

  12. Becky, a beautiful story. Courageous and loving. And very relevant in our world today. Sean is very lucky to have been born to such supportive parents as you and Scott… although luck had nothing to do with it. It was His way. Though you and I met for a moment, my attraction to you, Scott, your family and what to you stand for grows with time.

  13. That was beautiful! Thanks for sharing and helping to better the world.

  14. Mary Antivilo on January 16, 2014 at 10:18 am said:

    Thanks Becky and Sean for posting this. It was done so lovingly and beautifully. Hopefully this will be a means of helping to build the bridges of understanding and compassion to all God’s children. Sean has been such a good friend to my kids and even though We have met him only a few times we admire him for his courage and desire to reach out to others.

  15. Glen Herzog on January 16, 2014 at 10:43 am said:

    Hi Becky and Scott,

    Thank you for posting this inspiring message for all to see. My son Todd came out on national TV 6 years ago when he was on the TV show Survivor. I understand completely how difficult it is as a parent wanting your children to be happy and to have and love families of their own, but not being able to. This internal turmoil has just about killed my son many times over and he is currently fighting an addiction with alcohol to numb away alot of those feelings he is trying to deal with. As a parent I think it is so important to love and support our kids through anything this life throws at us, so thank you for sharing your story, it was truly inspiring.

    Glen Herzog

  16. Natasha Tilley on January 16, 2014 at 12:47 pm said:

    Thank you for this beautiful gift. My daughter Aubrie met Xian in Hawaii a few years ago and became instant friends (like I’m sure everyone he meets does). She spent 4 months volunteering in a medical orphanage in China. She then got a mission call to Thailand!!! (She has seen Xian while being there and sent pictures home). She has always talked so highly on him and what a great compliment to you and your husband. A parent wants nothing more than for their kids to be kind, loving, responsible and good little humans. It seems that is Xian……. with many other added to that list. I appreciate his encouragement and love toward my daughter. Thank you again for this honest and loving post. It warms my heart to know there are such wonderful people out there. I’m glad my daughter has such a great friend in Xian.
    P.S. I might need some info on the Thailand orphanage. When we go pick Aubrie up, we want to spend some time doing some service.

  17. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with us. Sean is so genuine and compassionate — his goodness is shines through his words and demeanor. It was eye-opening for me to hear of the very real, deep feelings Sean felt as he struggled to accept that he is gay. It breaks my heart to know the sadness he has felt and others in his situation undoubtedly feel too. This has inspired me to be more accepting of others.

  18. AJones on January 16, 2014 at 2:38 pm said:

    Thank you for this thoughtful post. Wonderful message, helping us learn to love better. I am anxious to hear more of what you have learned since then as you prayed and studied, what you wish you had said differently, and what things are most helpful for your son to hear. Would you mind sharing?

  19. Linda Stay on January 16, 2014 at 4:18 pm said:

    Wow, wow, wow!! Thank you for posting this, for your bravery, your love. It will change the world!

    • Paul Molinari on January 18, 2014 at 11:21 am said:

      What a wonderful message! You and your son are beautiful souls. Sean’s story is very similar to my own. Wish I could have met someone as special as Sean to have spent my life with. Thank you so much for making this world a better place. Much love and happiness to you and Sean (and the rest of your family) always.

  20. Jennifer Fackrell on January 16, 2014 at 4:41 pm said:

    Wow. How inspiring. You are such a beautiful family. Thank you so much for sharing such a deeply personal story.

  21. Dear Becky & Sean,

    I cannot tell you how my heart dropped when Becky began to cry. After losing so many friends who grew up either LDS or Fundamentalist to the demons that we throw upon ourselves I feared your video. I am so heartened by the message that the two of you give in this message of love. Love is all that matters. Becky, thank you for staying strong, welcoming, and being the nurturing source for your child. Sean, I celebrate your courage and strength in being human enough to reveal yourself to those who matter most in your heart and your soul.

    You both are wonderful and strong. Do not let anyone tell you different. Our creator gave us a mission when we entered this life. I cannot find fault with those who find their mission too much, but I can celebrate souls who stay strong and, with love, conquer all.

    Becky, I gather that you have the love of your life, you give that love forth, and I cannot give you words beyond that.

    Sean I wish you love, laughter, joy, and the magic of life in finding your other half. Finding the one that made my soul sing, who appreciates me and loves me for nothing other than being me was the treasure of my life. I hope you find someone who loves you that way and gives you the joy in your soul that you deserve. In what you have said, done, and shown, you are a beautiful man. Be happy and be in love.

    All of my best wishes, hopes, and thanks

  22. Hi Becky
    Thank you so much for bravely sharing this part of your life with us. Its so important! Thank you! Thank you! I am good friends with your sister Lynne and she has always talked very highly of Sean. Sean seems like an amazing young man!

  23. Nicole carter on January 16, 2014 at 9:10 pm said:

    Thank you thank you thank you. More people need to share these kinds of things. My sister who I love with all my heart is gay. She is an amazing person. I can’t believe the price she has had to pay while dealing with this. I’m proud of her for who she has become. I regret things I said to her in the beginning. I regret that she had to feel alone. Thank you for sharing your story. You are right. Coming out doesn’t change them, it changes us.

  24. Thank you so much for sharing your experience. I come from an almost identicle background, so it was like reading about myself from my parent’s perspective. I know that my parents had a very difficult time as well, so it is good to see the matter from their perspective. I just recently put a post on my own blog sharing my own experience, not an easy thing to divulge, in an effort to help people open their eyes to the struggles teens and young adults are going through. I’m glad there are others out there making an effort to do the same.

    • Thank you Chad for sharing your story. I would love to read your post, please send me the link. Thank you for being so brave.

      • Alan Banner on January 17, 2014 at 12:57 am said:

        Becky, thanks for sharing your story with those of us needing to know we are not alone. 32 years ago, rather than face my parents and a life of what I thought would be misery, I did attempt to end my life. Thank fully, I am still here. Like you, my mother was so loving, that my being gay changed nothing. What I feared most, rejection and isolation, was only a lie Satan tells to overpower and confuse. I have experienced nothing short of love and understanding from the LDS faith and it’s leaders. I am active, happy and blessed in so many ways. At 53, I’m proud of Sean and his great courage to persevere with the love and support of his family and his faith. I wouldn’t change a thing about my life, as I have learned lessons and gained personal insight that I wouldn’t have experienced if I were not a gay mormon. Thanks again, with all my heart, I know heavenly father loves us as unconditionally as Sean is loved by you.

        • Thank you Alan for sharing so openly. And so thankful your attempt to end your life failed – look at how many lives you have blessed. Wishing you all the best!

  25. Bernie Keefe on January 16, 2014 at 10:40 pm said:

    First off, I’d like to thank Becky and Sean for sharing.
    I cannot tell you how many times I contemplated suicide when I was Sean’s age. I also thought like Sean did, that it was something that would pass. I remember going to bed crying, pleading with God to cut me another deal…maybe….take my eyesight, my legs…anything but this. That was 26 years ago.
    Now, I fight. I fight everyday, for young men and women like Sean. I spend hours of my spare time dispelling misinformation, prevarications….oh screw it!…..LIES!, from the Religious Right meant to brainwash a set belief in the minds of their listeners about how horrible and disgusting people like myself and Sean are. The people from these orgs make $100k’s/year from donations by just spewing vitriol and lies on Fox News of course.
    I’m sure you now realize from what Sean has said to you, that, this is not a ‘choice’. We never chose this any more simply as your husband and you chose your sexual attraction to one another.
    I will pray for all of you as you continue to grow together. I pray that Sean finds a terrific guy someday.

  26. Thank you so much for sharing your story, including what you said, and wish you didn’t say. I am confident your words are going to help many people.

  27. John Deighton on January 17, 2014 at 7:22 am said:

    Such beauty and humility, wonderful and heartfelt words, Heavenly Father loves all His children and indeed He reserves those richest blessings to those whom love and serve Him as you surely do. I’m confident your sweet testimonies will touch the lives of many others. Much love from across the pond. John (UK)

  28. Daniel Johnson on January 17, 2014 at 11:13 pm said:

    Dear Becky….

    Your son sounds like a very awesome man. Too bad people just can’t see you for who you are! I so relate and hope that some day it isn’t an issue! Best of luck and life to you and Sean. Thanks for sharing and may God continue to bless you as he has done.

  29. Kevin P on January 18, 2014 at 2:32 am said:

    What a fantastic video. Congratulations for coming to a place where you can make it. Sean is a beautiful person and it is good the world was not left the poorer for his absence.

  30. Thank you for sharing, both of you. I love your outlooks on life and your commitment to faith and living joyfully. I agree 100% with everything you said. I am really trying to understand this issue. I like to watch and read things like this that come up but all of the posts seem to be missing the answers to my biggest questions. The big realization that everyone seems to be coming to is that it’s ok to be homosexual and God still loves you. I agree with that realization. So what then? What is the correct way to view their lives after they have accepted that fact? Does it make it acceptable to act on those feelings? Or is it just feelings that they know they have but can’t act on? I would think that would be very frustrating to live with. I hope you’re not offended by my questions. You have shared a very personal experience but if answering me would go beyond what you wish to share, I understand. I’ve never had someone in my family go through this and I have no idea how I would react if they did.

  31. Much love, and thank you. Sean, be strong!

  32. Jan Allen on January 19, 2014 at 10:29 pm said:

    Thank you so much for sharing this video. It touched our hearts, and we cried all the way
    through it. This is exactly our son’s story as well. We are learning everyday as a family.
    Thanks for your words and lessons. It has helped so much!!!

    Bruce and Jan

  33. I really appreciate this. I find that we who have this experience often want to send the same message to society. I came out publicly Nov. 4, 2013, and the experiences I have had in opening my mind, meeting amazing people, being at peace with myself, accepting this sacred part of me from God, and unconditionally loving others these past two and a half months have changed my life completely. Thank you for a mother’s perspective. I have often wondered what my mom went through and has been going through since I told her 5 months ago. I imagine it must be similar to what you mention here.

  34. Chris Batson on January 20, 2014 at 8:45 am said:

    Much love to your family, and tons of respect and admiration for managing a difficult family situation with the Christ-like spirit of love, compassion, understanding and acceptance.

  35. Frank Poulsen on February 26, 2014 at 2:38 pm said:

    Becky and Sean,

    Thanks for sharing. I just wanted to let you know that I love you, though I don’t know you personally. As I watched this video I felt a great love for the both of you. Carry on.

  36. MB Larsen on April 7, 2014 at 1:05 pm said:

    Incredible story with amazing strength and love! Thank you for sharing this deeply personal experience!

    ~MB

  37. Matthew on July 22, 2014 at 8:53 pm said:

    Is there an email address or something that can put me in touch with Sean or his mother? I could really use the support right now. In recent dream, Heavenly Father sent me to your YouTube video. Why? I’m unsure… I just need someone to talk to because I’m losing myself day by day…

    • becky on July 25, 2014 at 1:17 pm said:

      Matt! I just barely saw your comment. I am so happy you were diligent in finding me and that we had already connected and are communicating. Isn’t it awesome to know how much your Heavenly Father loves YOU and is watching over his children? When we feel we are at our wits end, He is right there to help us keep going. I’m so happy we have connected. Your strength and courage has been an inspiration to me.

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